'Vindication': Canadian Pastor Found Not Guilty of Violating COVID-19 Church Restrictions

Michael Foust | ChristianHeadlines.com Contributor | Wednesday, November 2, 2022
'Vindication': Canadian Pastor Found Not Guilty of Violating COVID-19 Church Restrictions

'Vindication': Canadian Pastor Found Not Guilty of Violating COVID-19 Church Restrictions


A Canadian pastor who was arrested and jailed for holding church services during the COVID-19 pandemic has been acquitted of violating the province’s health rules.

“All glory to God!” Tim Stephens, the pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Calgary, tweeted Tuesday after Provincial court Judge Allan Fradsham ruled that the government had failed to prove its case.

The controversy dates back to church services on February 28 and March 7 of 2021, when peace officers for the city of Calgary cited Stephens for failing to follow Alberta’s social distancing rules.

Fradsham, though, ruled that Stephens was not legally responsible for members’ conduct. Stephens’ only responsibility was that he himself followed the social distancing rules, the judge ruled.

“I see nothing in the provisions … which imposed any legal obligation on Pastor Stephens to ensure, compel, or encourage compliance, by those attending the religious services he was conducting,” Fradsham wrote in a nine-page decision. “... I am not satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt, or at all, that Pastor Stephens, on either of those two dates, failed to ‘maintain a minimum of 2 metres distance from every other person.’

“The evidence before me is that while congregants within the Church did not maintain a minimum of 2 metres distance from every other person, on both dates, Pastor Stephens was alone at the front of the Church.”

The judge added, “I find the accused not guilty.”

Stephens celebrated the judge’s decision.

“In total, 5 health tickets withdrawn, 1 criminal charge withdrawn, 1 contempt charge withdrawn, and now acquitted on these two counts. But I still spent 21 days in jail,” Stephens wrote on Twitter.

“This is vindication, not only for me, but vindication that the government grossly abused their power,” Stephens wrote. “In all of this, I rejoice since the gospel of Jesus Christ went forth in power, and Christ built his church. All glory to God!”

Related:

Gov’t Orders Canadian Church to ‘Immediately Close’ for Violating Restrictions

Canadian Church Holds Illegal ‘Underground’ Service after Gov’t Closes Its Building

Canadian Pastor Arrested at Home for Underground Service: ‘We Are Shaken, But Our Faith Is Not’

Photo courtesy: Rawpixel/Unsplash


Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chroniclethe Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.